By: Sophia Price
Summary: As we continue to pollute our atmosphere with greenhouse gasses, we see the increasing effects of climate change. As greenhouse gasses are trapped in the atmosphere, they collect heat, causing an increase in surface temperatures. In Michigan, climate change is effecting the Great Lakes, where water temperatures are at record highs. The Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System (GLCFS) reports that in July 2020, the average water temperature of Lake Huron was a shocking 11 degrees above average at 72.2 degrees. This is Lake Huron’s warmest mark on record this early in the year. In addition to Lake Huron, GLCFS reports that the water temperatures in all 5 Great Lakes are 6-11 degrees above average. Slightly higher water temperatures might not seem like a pressing issue, but climate change is already beginning to show it’s negative impact. In the Western waters of Lake Erie, an NOAA aircraft has photographed blue-green algae, these blooms can make both humans and fish that come into contact with them sick. Jason Samenow, a writer at the Washington Post reports, In 2014 cyanobacteria from Lake Erie entered Toledo’s water supply. Residents were told not to drink or touch their water. The possibility of an event like this occurring again is becoming more likely, as cyanobacteria is able to grow faster in the warmed water temperatures of the Great Lakes. Humans are not the only ones affected by a rise in Great Lakes water temperature. Fish are being squeezed into a smaller region of the waters, between the surface, which is too hot and the bottom, which does not contain enough oxygen. This poses a threat to the ecosystem as fish are now competing for resources in a smaller environment.
Why we should care? The Great Lakes are the largest source of freshwater on the planet. We should care about their preservation of its waters because of all of the services they provide; food, drinking water, economic opportunity and recreation.
This article struck my interest because of the multiple viewpoints it references. With an array of expert opinions, along with those of everyday people, it was very well rounded. It was interesting to see a contrast between a swim instructor who mentions, loving the warm waters, to an expert talking about the destruction of cyanobacteria. Another thing that made this article worth the read was the amount of visual aid while reading. A wide variety of maps and graphs were used to visually obtain information. I always find it helpful to realize the impact of an issue when looking at a comparative graph. The sources of these graphs and maps were all credible and established organizations, which gave me confidence in the information I was receiving. I know that in some articles there is bias around the issue of climate change, however this article was not the case in its strictly factual approach.
Science in Action.
Dr. Andrea Vander Woude is a Physical Research Scientist at NOAA- Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab.
Dr. Vander Woude is a satellite oceanographer, data scientist and geologist. She has studied the Great Lakes for over 5 years to understand the physical and ecological processes that take place. Vander Woude does this through the use of her 20 years of experience with remote sensing. She works with NOAA and USGS in order to obtain further satellite imaging and stop issues from the air. Her opinion on what we can do in terms of algae blooms is to think about the choices we make that contribute to greenhouse gas production. This will weaken the link in the chain of events created through climate change and the warming of the Great Lakes.